Wine. Food. Reviews. Recipes. Lap it up.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Men who follow a Mediterranean diet breathe easier

Following a Mediterranean diet may reduce the chance of men developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease by half, according to a study published in the online journal Thorax. COPD is an umbrella term for the lung diseases of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Between 1986 and 1998 researchers tracked the health of almost 43,000 men whose eating patterns fell into two distinct categories. Those who ate a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish (the "Mediterranean" diet) showed a 50 percent lower risk of developing COPD than those who ate a diet rich in processed foods, refined sugars, and cured and red meats (the "Western" diet), even after adjusting for age, smoking, and other risk factors.

This sounds like a good reason to start frequenting BARcelona....
M. Zane Grey, 9:37 PM | link |

Organic, biodynamic, free trade -- who cares?

As wineries all over the world are making efforts to become carbon-neutral and use sustainable agriculture comes this discouraging news: Consumers don't care.

A report released by wine marketing consultants Wine Intelligence says that the majority of UK consumers don't care if their wine is organic or Fair Trade, and don't know what biodynamic means.

This echoes marketing studies done by the environmentally-progressive Cline Cellars, which found that while consumers might consider "organic" to be a positive term when connected to food, it has a negative connotation for wine.
M. Zane Grey, 8:26 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grilled Scallops

Here's an easy way make grilled scallops. If you want a sauce, reduce some balsamic vinegar until thickened and drizzle it over the scallops before serving.

Grilled Scallops
serves two

12-18 large scallops
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Rinse scallops in fresh water. Place on paper towels to dry.

Whisk together remaining ingredients. (For best results, mix peppercorns and oregano together and chop fine in chopper-type coffee grinder before adding to marinade.)

Put scallops in gallon-sized ziplock bag and pour marinade in over them. Squeeze air out of bag, seal, and place in refrigerator for 1-4 hours.

Remove scallops from marinade and grill in grill basket for about four minutes per side. Serve immediately, accompanied by risotto, rice or a tossed salad.
M. Zane Grey, 8:08 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Case of the Lumpy Shirt

A New Zealand man has been arrested for shoplifting after being caught with 14 bottles of wine tucked under his shirt. His three-year-old accomplice was not charged.
M. Zane Grey, 9:26 AM | link |

Monday, May 28, 2007

French-Indian(a) Chicken

If you like barbequed chicken but would like a change from tomato-based sauce, try this mustard-based alternative

French-Indian(a) Chicken
yield: one chicken

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
3 large lemons
8 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. Chardonnay or other white wine
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. hot curry powder

Remove skin from chicken and discard (or fry in skillet with a little oil until crisp to make dog treats). Place chicken pieces in gallon-size ziplock bag along with the juice of two lemons. Turn bag until all pieces are coated and put in refrigerator to marinate for an hour or so, turning bag over occasionally.

In the meantime, make the finishing sauce by whisking together the juice of the remaining lemon and the Dijon mustard, wine, pepper, cayenne and curry powder in a non-reactive bowl. Set aside.

Grill chicken bone side down with lid closed for 20 minutes, then turn and grill meaty side down for 10 minutes. Turn bone side down once again, brush meaty side with sauce, and grill until done, approximately 10-15 minutes. Transfer to plate and serve immediately, along with purple cole slaw and fresh corn on the cob.
M. Zane Grey, 10:56 AM | link |

Friday, May 25, 2007

Evans & Tate Chardonnay 2005

At least a few nights a week, I take home some new wines to review. Sometimes that works well -- I like the wine, I write something nice. Sometimes it doesn't work so well -- either I don't like the wine, or it's OK, but I don't like it well enough to recommend it. And my mom always said "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," so I just don't mention wines I'm indifferent to. (Why would you want to hear about those, anyway?)

Last night, I tried an OK Chardonnay. There was nothing wrong with it, really, but it just didn't light me up. It was a competent effort, but it wasn't fulfilling. So I went into today with a Chardonnay Fulfillment Deficit, and decided to spend a few more bucks (but still under $15, if possible) to satisfy my craving.

What I ended up with was the Evans & Tate Chardonnay 2005 from Margaret River, Australia. And let me say this: It makes up for the last three OK Chardonnays that I haven't told you about.

This Chard is very light in color but big in tropical fruit flavors (pineapple in particular, and I swear there's a little coconut -- I almost wanted to stick a little paper parasol in it), with just enough oak to add a dash of vanilla. It's full of body, and the tongue-coating finish is pleasant and long-lasting.

I'm not generally a fan of Aussie Chards, but this one is exceptionally well done and nicely balanced. This vintage is about gone, so if you see it at your local shop be sure to nab a few bottles -- and keep them on hand as an antidote for when you've had too many OK Chards.
M. Zane Grey, 8:21 PM | link |

Reilly's Barking Mad Shiraz 2005

Here's yet another big Aussie wine with a critter label: Reilly's Barking Mad Shiraz 2005.

It's a perfectly likable wine, with a very dark color, peppery nose, and smooth, pleasing flavors of dark berry and plum on the palate. It's full-bodied, and has a satisfying mouthfeel and a long finish with just a little heat, due no doubt to its 14.5 percent alcohol content. And at under $15 per bottle, it's a real bargain.
M. Zane Grey, 11:31 AM | link |

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Zionsville restaurants opening this weekend

Diners in Zionsville should have a couple more restaurants to choose from over the Memorial Day weekend.

Brix, the downtown bistro that has been dormant for more than a month, has a sign in its window advertising that everything will be back to normal this weekend.

And according to scuttlebutt, the new Patrick's Kitchen and Drinks will do a soft opening this weekend. The locally-owned Patrick's promises to serve charbroiled entrées and craft-brewed beer (yay!). Based on what I could see by peering through the window, it will be a comfortable, contemporary place, with limestone accent walls and nouveau-populuxe furnishings.
M. Zane Grey, 9:39 AM | link |

Treating corked wine with plastic wrap

Sooner or later, anyone who drinks wine regularly will run across some that is contaminated with 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole -- TCA, for short. In wine drinker's parlance, such a wine is "corked," since the compound is typically caused by a reaction between mold on the cork and a chlorine-based cleaning compound.

According to the wine industry, TCA contamination affects somewhere from three to seven percent of all wines. It's detectable to most people at five parts per trillion, and to some people at even less. TCA's effects range from a subtle muting of a wine's fruit to a strong musty odor more suited to a gym locker than a wine glass.

Unfortunately, many of the bottles ruined by TCA are long-anticipated wines finally opened for some special occasion. (I usually hear at least a few sad corked-bottle stories from Thanksgiving until just after New Year's Day.) A corked bottle of wine is always a disappointment -- even more so if you don't have a backup bottle on hand.

Usually, the best thing to do with a corked bottle is to return it to the store you bought it from. The store then has the option of returning it to the distributor, and the distributor to the winemaker. But if you want to see if you can salvage it instead, a recent story from the Los Angeles Times describes a method using a glass pitcher and plastic wrap.

Here's what you do: Wad up a square piece of polyethylene plastic wrap (e.g. Saran Wrap) and put it in the bottom of a pitcher. Slowly pour the wine over the plastic wrap, then gently slosh the wine around until all of it has been exposed to the polyethylene, which acts as a sponge for the TCA.

After five to ten minutes, try a sample of the wine to see if it's still corked. If it is, repeat the process. When the taint is gone, decant the wine into a clean container and savor the results.

I haven't actually tried this yet, and am hopeful that I don't have the opportunity any time soon. If you try this method (or already have), use the mail link on the left side of this page and let me know how it works.
M. Zane Grey, 8:02 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2005

Pinot Noir is a finicky grape to grow, and the wine generally isn't inexpensive. So when an $11 California Pinot sporting an 1890s bicycle poster as its label turned up on the shelves, I was a bit skeptical.

Well, what they saved on label design they must have put into the wine, because it's actually pretty darned good. It doesn't have the complexity and depth of a $40 Oregon Pinot, but it does have the characteristic bright cherry and cola flavors, good body, just enough acidity, and a surprisingly long, pleasant finish. Cooled to 55°F, this wine would be a good way to wash down cucumber rounds topped with rosettes of salmon mousse (perhaps even this weekend)....
M. Zane Grey, 7:19 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Arbanta Rioja 2005

The Arbanta Rioja 2005 is a delicious, organically grown, easy-to-drink, all-Tempranillo wine.

Finding the vintage is a challenge -- it's on the back of the bottle, in tiny type on the lower right corner of the Rioja certification label. But once you've done that, rest assured that this $10 drinker will reward you with mild tannins and a nose and palate of dark cherries and tea. Drink it by itself, or pair it with roast chicken, burgers or pizza.
M. Zane Grey, 8:53 AM | link |

Monday, May 21, 2007

Red wine protects against prostate cancer

Men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only 52 percent as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine, according to the June 2007 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Red wine appears also seems to be particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers, the article says.

Scientists evaluated different types of alcoholic beverages independently, and found that wine drinking was linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. When white wine was compared with red, red had the most benefit, and even low amounts seemed to help.

It is speculated that cancer cells are inhibited by the antioxidants present in certain compounds in red wine, including various flavonoids and resveratrol, and that some of those components may counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.
M. Zane Grey, 5:33 PM | link |

K-J owner's horse wins Preakness

Curlin, the horse owned partly by Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson, has won the Preakness Stakes in record time. Curlin ran the 1 3/16 mile course in 1:53.46, tying Tank’s Prospect (1985) and Louis Quatorze (1996).

The horse started near the back and only led where it counts -- the last few yards, where he edged out Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense to win by a head.

Curlin earned $600,000 from a total purse of $1 million. In addition to earning his keep for his owners, the horse's winnings will benefit the Curlin for Kids Foundation, which helps fund numerous charities including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Smile Train, which provides free surgeries for children with cleft lips and palates.
M. Zane Grey, 3:51 PM | link |

Tom's barbequed beef brisket

As soon as I had my first sip of the Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2005, I knew what I was going to make on Memorial Day: Tom Landshof's Barbequed Beef Brisket.

I've followed this recipe of Tom's several times, with excellent results. Rather than use a Weber kettle in the manner he describes I use my trash can smoker, but either way the resulting brisket is delicious.

I also have a more recent recipe for Tom's rub mix:

Tom's BBQ Rub
Yield: a bunch

4 Tbs. paprika
2 Tbs. chili powder
2 Tbs. ground cumin
2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. ground oregano
1 Tbs. cane sugar
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. allspice
1 Tbs. chipotle powder (optional)

Mix ingredients in bowl.

I usually measure the black peppercorns, sugars and oregano into a chopper-type coffee grinder and mix them together before blending them into the rest of the mixture.

This keeps for a long time when stored in a glass jar, and is nice to have on hand.
M. Zane Grey, 9:56 AM | link |

Garretson The Celeidh Rose 2005

Here's another big pink: Garretson Wine Company's The Celeidh 2005.

Actually, it's a bit of a stretch to call this wine pink -- it's more of a garnet color, with a robustness to match. A big (14.5 percent alcohol) blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, this is a rosé than can stand up to more boldly-flavored food than its lighter-complected cousins. I could identify rhubarb and a bit of smokiness on the palate, along with a few other flavors I couldn't quite place but seemed naggingly familiar.

This wine is bone dry, and I found it to be an excellent match for a slab of grilled salmon seasoned with lemon, capers and a dollop or two of the Emerald Isle Onion Dill Horseradish Dip from Robert Rothschild. The Celeidh isn't a wine you'll find everywhere -- just 560 cases were produced -- but it's well worth the search and the $15.
M. Zane Grey, 9:26 AM | link |

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2005

It just wouldn't be summer without a good Zinfandel to accompany barbequed beef. Just in time for Memorial Day weekend comes the Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2005, which turns out to be the under-$20 Zin (just barely, at $19) I've been pining for over the last few months.

This is a terrific wine, with a big, Zinny nose, a full-bodied, dark brambly fruit palate, and a peppery but smooth finish with no unpleasant heat despite its 15.2 percent alcohol content. If you're looking for a satisfying Zin at a reasonable price, this will be a tough one to beat.

Here's a shopping tip: Seghesio's Zins are all similarly labeled, but with different colored capsules. The Sonoma designation's capsule is dark blue. Chances are you wouldn't be the least bit disappointed if you ended up with a Seghesio wine that had a different color of capsule, but you'd be surprised at the checkout counter.
M. Zane Grey, 8:18 AM | link |

Sunday, May 20, 2007

For those who like floral wines

Residents of the Tehrathum and Sankhuwasabha districts of Nepal (maybe we should start calling them "appellations") are making wine from rhododendron blossoms.

Besides being reportedly tasty, the wine is said by locals to be beneficial for people with heart, chest and blood pressure problems. A liter of wine can be produced from a kilogram of blossoms gathered in rhododendron forests, which were recently on the verge of extinction in the area because they were a popular source of firewood.
M. Zane Grey, 11:12 AM | link |

A wine glass for pets

Designer Alice Wang is offering a set of two wine glasses -- one for you, and one for your pet.

The acrylic drinking vessels are part of Wang's line of pet products, which also include a bib, a set of bowls, a pillow and a rather amusing leash.

£45 seems a bit stiff for a pair of acrylic glasses, and the design doesn't strike me as workable. Better to get a nice Riedel for yourself, and a sturdy Waterford bowl for your pampered pet.

A wag of the tail to Adele for the tip!
M. Zane Grey, 10:25 AM | link |

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Good body, finishes clean

Actress Teri Hatcher doesn't just put her leftover wine down the drain -- at least not until she's finished bathing in it.

The Desperate Housewives star says a chemist friend told her to pour wine in her bath instead of throwing it away because of "all the good properties in wine -- antioxidants and stuff."

Well, sure -- and sparkling wines have all those nice scrubbing bubbles....
M. Zane Grey, 9:11 AM | link |

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tuscan tenderloin

We had a gathering this week to honor a family member whose favorite place to visit was Florence, so it seemed appropriate to serve a Tuscan Tenderloin along with a variety of red wines from the region.

Since we had nine in our group, we started with two five-pound beef tenderloins, which we trimmed according to these instructions from Gourmet magazine. As the instructions indicate, trimming a tenderloin generates a big pile of scrap -- our two generated enough waste to fill a one-gallon freezer bag, which I'll later sort through and turn into steakburgers for us and suet for the woodpeckers.

After sifting through the Google results for "tuscan tenderloin recipe" we settled on this one from (and I have no idea what that photo is of, but it sure isn't a beef tenderloin). We reduced the amount of salt from a tablespoon to a teaspoon and used two tablespoons or so of fresh thyme instead of one tablespoon of dried, but other than that followed the recipe as written and were well pleased.

(The recipe indicates that a five-pound tenderloin will yield 13 servings, but believe me, it won't. After trimming, a five-pound tenderloin will yield no more than five servings, unless all your guests are suffering from stomach flu.)
M. Zane Grey, 11:14 AM | link |

Costco is nation's biggest wine retailer

No surprise here: Nobody in the United States sells more wine than Costco. The giant warehouse club, which has 49 million cardholders and 373 stores in the U.S., sold $728 million of wine in 2005. Costco also sells a variety of wine and beer storage units through its Web site and local warehouses.
M. Zane Grey, 10:49 AM | link |

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cooks and Lawyers

Here's a cartoon from the May 21 issue of The New Yorker. Go look at it before its URL changes.
M. Zane Grey, 9:07 PM | link |

Andretti and wines at Deano's Vinos

Racing legend Mario Andretti will be on hand with Deano's Vinos for the fourth annual Race to the Rooftop at the Fountain Square Theatre and Rooftop Garden on May 24. General admission tickets to the event are $35; a personal audience with Andretti and an autographed selection of his wines come with the $200 and $300 VIP tickets.
M. Zane Grey, 9:12 AM | link |

Global warming may be changing wine map

Climatologists are warning that by the end of this century Germany will be producing robust red wines, Sweden will be making Rieslings, and the best sparklers will come from Surrey instead of Champagne.

Some wine regions are benefiting from warmer temperatures, as areas of France and Germany are producing richer, fruitier Rieslings, Burgundies and Beaujolais. But changes in weather patterns may bring economic disaster in parts of Spain, Australia and California.

One portent of things to come: Wineries in Alaska.
M. Zane Grey, 8:28 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Napa treats for canine connoisseurs

Bowluga treats, canine peppermints and pewter dog tags in the shape of wine bottles and casks are now available at Grapevine Cottage in Zionsville.

In case you're wondering why products for pooches would be sold in a wine shop, it's because they're made by Dogs Uncorked, which is owned by Blakesley Chappellet, wife of vintner Cyril Chappellet, whose wine is also available at the shop.

I'll have a dish of Mountain Cuvée with my Bowluga, please....
M. Zane Grey, 8:32 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More good news for mice

Results of a study performed at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine indicate that Cabernet Sauvignon may be effective at combating Alzheimer's Disease in female mice.

Circumstances dictate light blogging today, so just go read the whole story.
M. Zane Grey, 8:35 AM | link |

Monday, May 14, 2007

Japanese cars may literally become "rice burners"

"Rice Burner" is a term that has long been used to derisively describe certain Japanese vehicles, but if a state-funded experiment being conducted by the University of Tokyo is successful the country's fleet could indeed come to be powered by a form of automotive Sake.

Japan, which is the world's largest consumer of gasoline after the United States, imports all of its motor fuel. The increase in oil prices, coupled with the goal of meeting carbon emissions reduction targets specified by the Kyoto protocols, have spurred efforts to develop a domestically-produced biofuel. The experimental program seeks to make an ethanol fuel from rice hulls and other agricultural waste.
M. Zane Grey, 9:28 AM | link |

Gallo judged most powerful wine brand

Gallo is the most powerful wine brand in the world, according to a report by Intangible Business, an international brand valuation and development firm.

The Power 100 ranks wine and spirits brands based on their share of market, brand growth, price positioning and market scope, as well as brand awareness and other less tangible criteria. It rates the top 10 wine brands as follows:

1. Gallo (USA)
2. Hardy's (USA)
3. Concha y Toro (Chile)
4. Robert Mondavi (USA)
5. Yellowtail (Australia)
6. Jacob's Creek (Australia)
7. Lindeman's (Australia)
8. Sutter Home (USA)
9. Blossom Hill (USA)
10. Rosemount (Australia)

The highest-ranking Old World brand was Torres (Spain) at number 15. No French brand made it into the top 100.
M. Zane Grey, 8:57 AM | link |

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Garretson G White 2005

Winemaker Mat Garretson makes California-style wines with traditional Rhône grape varieties at his winery in Paso Robles. His reds are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, and his whites are Roussane and Viognier.

Garretson's G White 2005 is 54.4 percent Viognier and 46.6 percent Roussane. It has a rich, honeyed, floral nose, and crisp flavors of apricot and lemon. (A friend said it reminded him of lemon custard, and it does go that direction as it warms in the glass.) It has a bit of creaminess in the mouth, plenty of body, and the finish is long and pleasant. It's about $15 a bottle, and a delicious alternative for those times when the dreaded Chardonnay Burnout sets in.
M. Zane Grey, 9:08 AM | link |

Bodegas Añadas Care Rosado 2006

Normally when I think of Big Pink I think of The Band, but now I'm beginning to associate the term with a certain type of rosé wines.

One such example is the Care Rosado 2006 from Bodgeas Añadas. Half Cabernet Sauvignon and half Tempranillo, this Spanish wine has a bright raspberry color, plenty of body, and a 14 percent alcohol content. The nose suggests strawberries with a whiff of rose petal; it's like a fresh berry salad with a little watermelon rind on the palate, and the finish is long and dry. At $11, this would be a good rosé to experiment with if you still associate pink wines with White Zins, and an excellent beverage to sip while getting the grill ready on a warm summer afternoon.
M. Zane Grey, 8:02 AM | link |

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bitterness more palatable later in life

A Sonoma State University and a Master of Wine have teamed up to determine why people taste things differently.

Liz Thach, a professor in Sonoma State’s Wine Business Program, says there are four components of wine preferences — Taste Bud Quotient, Metabolic State, Psychological Conditioning and Concurrent Sensations. Hatch and her associate, Tim Hanni, divide palates into three basic groups: the “Hypo Taster,” who has fewer tastebuds and has a higher tolerance for tannins and bitterness; the “Hyper Taster,” who has more tastebuds and is highly sensitive to tannins and bitterness; and the “Median Taster,” who is moderately sensitive and is usually open to a broad range of wines.

Taste buds alone don't determine wine preference, they said. Other elements -- attitude, ambiance, metabolic state and psychological factors among them -- affect how flavor is perceived, and help account for why the same wine may taste different at separate tastings.

People’s sensitivity to bitterness changes, but that change isn’t noticeable until a drinker's 60s or 70s, Hanni said. The people with the most sensitive palates are white zinfandel drinkers, he added.
M. Zane Grey, 10:37 AM | link |

French Champagne: So good for the brain

Cole Porter was right: French Champagne is good for the brain.

According to research conducted jointly by The University of Reading and the Università degli Studi di Cagliari published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Champagne may help protect the brain against injuries incurred during a stroke and other ailments, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The report indicates that drinking Champagne may have health benefits because it contains high amounts of polyphenols, which are antioxidants. Polyphenols are found in greater abundance in red wines, but past studies have found Champagne to contain high amounts of phenolic compounds as well.

Researchers believe that Champagne extracts protect neuron cells in several ways, and that Blanc de Noirs are more effective than Blanc de Blancs because of their red-wine content.
M. Zane Grey, 9:28 AM | link |

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Red Wine Haiku Review

A fellow named Lane Steinberg has hit on a novel and efficient way to review wines: He writes strict 5-7-5 syllables per line haikus.

His site, the Red Wine Haiku Review, currently boasts just over 250 three-line reviews that range from inscrutable to laugh-out-loud funny.

Some examples:

201) Molly Dooker 'The Boxer' Shiraz 2005 (Australia)
A laughing monster
Rip roaring fat & muscle
Hundred pound baby

147) The Little Penguin Pinot Noir 2004 (Australia)
Poor Mr. Pinot
They went and cut out his brain
Now he just smiles

42) Julienas, DeBeouf (Beaujolais, France) 2003
Summer strawberries
Extracted & exploded
Juice squeezed from the sun

Haikus copyright © by Lane Steinberg.
M. Zane Grey, 7:52 PM | link |

A dress with good body and an interesting nose

Maybe we can just attribute it to Australia's recent grape glut, along with the adage "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Life gave Australians grapes, so they made ... fabric?

A cottonlike, cellulose fiber dress was recently made of wine as part of the Micro ‘be’ arts project at the University of Western Australia's Institute of Agriculture, using wine that researchers deliberately let go off.

The dress was made with cellulose produced by acetobacter bacteria as they turned a vat of red wine into vinegar. The cellulose was formed around an inflatable doll ("I'm just buying it for research purposes -- no, really!"), which was deflated after the dress was complete.

Cellulose fabric produced by this method isn't yet practical, because the shortness of the fibers requires that the material be kept wet; if it dries out it becomes brittle and tears easily. Researchers hope to collaborate with an organic chemist to find a way to polymerise the cellulose fibers to make a more wearable fabric.
M. Zane Grey, 7:08 PM | link |

Wrongo Dongo redux

It seems that no sooner had I reviewed the 2004 vintage that the Wrongo Dongo 2005 appeared on the shelf. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since its Wine Advocate score rose from 85 to 87 while its price stayed steady at $9 a bottle.

The flavor profile is much different, though. That strawberry component the ’04 had is way in the background (it's still detectable on the nose), and plum and blackberry have come to the fore, along with a hint of clove.

Right out of the bottle this medium-bodied wine carries the tannins of a spirited two-year-old, but those moderate after a few minutes in a glass or decanter. This would be a great burger wine, and is no doubt capable of much more than that.
M. Zane Grey, 7:01 AM | link |

La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux Rosé 2005

I'm determined to get more rosés into my diet this summer. The poor things have had their reputations unfairly sullied because they're similar in appearance to sweet pink wines, which they are decidedly not, and there are some examples on the shelf that are real bargains.

Case in point: the La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux Rosé 2005 is quite dry, with a streak of acidity that gives it the flexibility to pair with food as well being sipped as an apéritif. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, its light nose suggests spicy rhubarb, while on the palate it delivers a mix of strawberry and raspberry. This isn't a big rosé -- we'll get to those next week -- but it's a nice, inexpensive ($8) non-white deck beverage that could be pressed into service as a competent companion to ham, grilled salmon, grilled chicken or barbequed shrimp.
M. Zane Grey, 6:59 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc 2005

What a lovely California Sauv Blanc this is, full of pineapple and melon with a creamy mouthfeel that suggests oak, even though the wine was cold fermented in stainless steel. It's flavorful, refreshing and bone dry, perfect for sipping on the deck or as an accompaniment to chicken (we had it with ’Choked Chicken with Capers) or grilled fish. At this moment, I'm planning on serving it next week with grilled shrimp tossed with The Devil's Angel Hair. At $10 a bottle, this is a good wine to stock up on for summer.
M. Zane Grey, 7:25 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wine pairing goes high-tech

Guidelines for pairing wines and foods have long been found in the print domain, in the form of books, brochures and wine wheels (including the one Andrea Immer did for Target a few years ago). Now you can do research on the Web, or consult a guide on your trusty iPod.

Wine writer Natalie MacLean has introduced a wine-pairing utility on her Web site that reportedly is capable of generating more than 360,000 matches. This is a potentially handy tool that works two ways: If you're trying to figure out an appropriate wine to match with a dish you intend to serve, it will do that -- and if you need some recipe suggestions for that bottle of Madiran you've been saving, they're just a few clicks away.

If you have a video-capable iPod, you can carry a wine-pairing resource in your pocket. Although its database isn't nearly as extensive as MacLean's, the PocketPairings Wine Survival Guide provides some good basic guidance -- and it's free! It's just at version 1.0, so we can perhaps anticipate some refinements in future releases.
M. Zane Grey, 2:33 PM | link |

Good news, bad news for Aussie winemakers

Australian winemakers set new export records for volume and value during the 12-month period ending April 30. According to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, the United States overtook Great Britain in terms of export value by buying more than $960 million AUS of wine. Great Britain takes 35% of Australia's wine exports, making it the largest consumer by volume.

However, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics reports that wine grape production in the country has fallen by a third in the past year. A combination of low rainfall, lower water allocations and severe frost in South Australia caused production of red wine grapes to fall by 40 percent from the previous season and white wine grape production to decline by nearly 30 percent.
M. Zane Grey, 1:48 PM | link |

Monday, May 07, 2007

K-J colt fades in the finish

Curlin, the horse owned by Kendall-Jackson founder Jess Jackson, failed to win a race for the first time last Saturday. Unfortunately for Curlin (and Jackson) that race was the Kentucky Derby. Initially the favorite, Curlin came in third.
M. Zane Grey, 11:27 AM | link |

Kahn's partners split, divide assets

Kahn's two owners have dissolved their partnership and split the stores. According to FeedMe/DrinkMe, Jim Arnold will take the new Keystone Avenue store, and Joe Husar will take the Carmel store, the catering business and Montage at Allison Pointe. New names for the Carmel store and the catering business have not yet been announced.
M. Zane Grey, 11:07 AM | link |

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Kendall-Jackson with long legs and a little barnyard

Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson is the owner of Curlin, a contender in tomorrow's 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby. The three-year-old colt, who won his first three races, is the 7-2 morning line favorite.
M. Zane Grey, 4:27 PM | link |


Seeing as how Evan Finch has been pretty busy this week, it's possible that he might give his occasional Things to Do email newsletter a hiatus. Just in case, here are a couple of art openings (Free wine and cheese!) brought to my attention by artist Emma Overman, who is showing some of her work at each. (If Murphy's Law is functioning correctly, as soon as I post this I'll get Evan's email. At least that's what I'm hoping.)
Children's Illustrators
Dean Johnson Design
May 4 through June 21

Opening on the night of Mass Ave's Spring Gallery Walk, the Dean Johnson Gallery's new show features the works of children's book illustrators Rob Harrel, Andi Phillips, Emma Overman, April Willy and Julia Woolf. Each artist has also created a special interpretation of Alice in Wonderland just for this exhibit.

Phone: 317.634.8020

* * *

Open Studio Night
Harrison Center
May 4, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Multiple new shows opening in the gallery spaces of The Harrison Center, 1505 North Delaware Street. There are 15 artists there, so you could make an evening of it by visiting each one for exactly 16 minutes.
Phone: 317.396.3886

* * *
M. Zane Grey, 9:10 AM | link |

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bad karma in Napa

A former general manager of Ehlers Estate Winery has been arrested and charged with embezzlement. More than $100,000 was allegedly stolen from the winery during 2005-2006.

Ehlers Estate Winery is owned by Fondation Leducq, a trust that finances cardiovascular research.
M. Zane Grey, 8:49 AM | link |

Just in time for barbeque season

The American Lung Association has a wonderfully depressing report about how fresh our fresh air really is. Surely their data is skewed by cow farts -- so let's hurry up and grill as many of the durned critters as we can....
M. Zane Grey, 12:29 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New deck in the cards for Villaggio

Zionsville's Italian restaurant, Villaggio, is getting a new second-story deck. Overlooking the park on First Street (the rest of the restaurant fronts Main Street), the white-columned structure should be finished in time for Mothers Day.
M. Zane Grey, 12:05 PM | link |

Easy chicken with ’chokes

For us, during-the-work-week meals need to be quick, easy, delicious and economical. It helps if the recipes are forgiving, and if the dish is something we still love to eat even if we have it every week.

There are many recipes like that in the very useful Grapevine Cottage Cookbook from Zionsville's best-known wine shop. The starting point for our favorite workday recipe is on Page 111, Sautéed Chicken with Artichokes and Capers.

The following version is easy to make as long as these staples are on hand:

- Dijon mustard (Costco, Grey Poupon two-pack)
- Capers (Cost Plus, $5.99 for a 16-oz. jar, buy a couple)
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Costco)
- Lemons (buy a bag somewhere)
- Onions (buy a bag somewhere)
- Garlic (I prefer a bulk container of peeled cloves)
- Artichoke hearts, halved and quartered (about $9 a gallon at Costco)
- Dry white wine (some for you, some for the chicken)
- Optional: Frozen mushroom risotto from Trader Joe's

’Choked Chicken with Capers
Serves four to six, or two with plenty of leftovers

Cut up two packets of chicken (about 10 thighs total) into bite-sized pieces. Pour enough olive oil in a sauté pan to cover bottom and heat to medium.

Put chicken into sauté pan and brown until cooked through, stirring in about half a dozen chopped garlic cloves. (If you don't have a Cuisinart Mini-Prep yet, get one -- they're only about $30.) Grind on fresh black pepper to taste, remove chicken to Pyrex dish, and place in oven to keep warm.

Deglaze pan with about a cup of white wine, and add one large chopped onion to pan. Cook until soft, then add a cup or two of drained artichoke hearts (I use a large slotted spoon, and put in about four spoonfuls). Let mixture simmer, and add 2-3 Tbs. of Dijon mustard, the juice of one lemon, and a couple of Tbs. of capers (again with a slotted spoon).

Stir the chicken back into the mixture and simmer until the sauce has reduced to desired consistency. If you like, this is a good time to add a package of TJ's mushroom risotto. (If you prefer a neater presentation you can prepare the risotto separately and then spoon the chicken mixture over it -- but then you'll have two dirty pans instead of one, won't you?)

Spoon onto plates and enjoy with a little more of that white wine. Excellent when zapped in the microwave for lunch the next day, and not bad cold when furtively snacking from the fridge in the wee hours of the morning.
M. Zane Grey, 8:48 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


When I visited my parents shortly after my birthday in March, they gave me a tiny jar of truffles that had been intended as a Christmas present but arrived too late for that. They're sitting on a shelf over the kitchen sink now, waiting to lend their earthy flavor to some yet-to-be-determined dish.

We mentioned the truffles to my parents when we visited them on Easter Sunday, and I jokingly said that I'd have to acquire a truffle slicer so that I could use them.

"I have one of those," my mom said, to my great surprise. "In the middle kitchen drawer. If you can find it, you can have it."

After rummaging around in the drawer briefly, we found it. She had bought it at a bargain price at Big Lots or some similar place on one of the hunting-and-gathering expeditions she used to entertain herself with, and had only used it a time or two to slice mushrooms. Mom's always been full of surprises, but a truffle slicer? Laughing, I accepted it.

I just never associated my mom with truffles. Now, morels, yes -- when I was a kid she taught me how to hunt and identify them, and she, my father and I would sometimes spend time on warm Spring days in late April or early May looking around decaying logs and under May Apples in a nearby woods for the spongy delicacies, sometimes coming home empty-handed, but often taking home grocery sacks full. Upon returning home, my mom would clean them, soak them in salt water for a while, then batter and fry them, filling the house with a wonderful aroma. Then we'd feast.

Years have passed, and all of our old Morel-hunting spots have been paved over. Every now and then a morel or two will pop up in our yard and offer itself up to us, but as delicious as they always are, they're never as good as the ones Mom used to make.

There are many things that Mom used to make that I just can't duplicate. Her wonderful baked lemon chicken. Her custard. Her eggnog. The open-faced bacon and cheese on hot dog bun sandwiches, made in the oven so the bun was toasty, the bacon crisp and the cheese melty. Pork roast that made me hungrier as I ate it, and the roast beef that I requested every year for my birthday.

Mom taught me the basics about cooking -- and, for that matter, a lot of other things. And years later, when I was living on my own and learning how fulfilling cooking could be, she was my pre-Google one-stop kitchen information source. On those rare occasions that I stumped her, she delighted in ferreting out the requested information out and getting back to me.

She quit cooking after her stroke several years ago, and after she developed heart problems and diabetes her diet was controlled for her health's sake. But on special occasions she'd briefly throw caution to the winds, and go ahead and have a grilled cheeseburger or a dish of vanilla ice cream. It has been a great pleasure of mine to be cook for my family on Thanksgivings and other special days, and to try to make my mother proud of what she taught me. No matter how plain or fancy the meal, they're always a success if I use the same magic ingredient my mom did: Love.

On the Sunday after Easter, my mom went into the hospital, then to Marquette Manor for a few days, where she raved about the food. Now she's in the hospital again, and her next move will either be back to Marquette Manor or to a hospice. If we reconfigure my parents' home a bit, we might be able to provide hospice care there.

I wish I could use the power of food to bring back her health; I wish I could use the power of red wine to vanquish her cancer. I hope I can take her some home-cooked meals -- there are so many things I want her to try! I hope she can have vanilla ice cream every day for the rest of her life, and that for the rest of her life she is comfortable and free from pain.

* * *

I think the truffles will end up in scrambled eggs some Sunday morning. And the truffle slicer my mother gave me will forever have a special place in my kitchen, and in my heart.
M. Zane Grey, 4:52 AM | link |